As Tom Brady ascended to potential Hall of Fame status in his first three playoff runs, he turned in numerous last-minute drives that catapulted his New England Patriots to victory…most notably in the three Super Bowls the Patriots won in the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons.
In starting his playoff career 10-0, Brady engineered five fourth-quarter drives that resulted in New England wins. At the beginning of the 2007 season, Jets coach Eric Mangini revealed to the NFL that the Patriots had been stealing other teams’ defensive signals. While the Patriots have continued to play very well during the regular season, Brady hasn’t engineered a single fourth quarter comeback in a playoff game since “Spygate” came to light.
In fact, since the start of the 2007 playoffs, Brady is 4-4 in the post-season, including three straight losses…two at home.
In Super Bowl XLII, Brady was 29-48 for 266 yards, leading his club to just 14 points. He was 10-18 in the fourth quarter of that game, leading the Pats to a touchdown to tie the game. He didn’t play well against Baltimore last year, and couldn’t come back when the opportunity presented itself against the Jets on Sunday, most importantly not being able to close out a long drive in the fourth quarter that the Pats failed to score on.
Since his knowledge of defensive signals was revealed, Brady has gone 129-196 for 1,190 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions in five post-season games, for a passer rating of 84.3. Contrast that with his 10-0 playoff start, in which Brady was 205-321 for 2,152 yards, 14 TD’s and three interceptions, for a passer rating of 93.9.
There’s no question that Brady has been and is great. He certainly deserves the MVP for the 2010 season. But Hall of Fame quarterbacks are made in the post-season, and Brady’s post-season resume is tainted by Spygate. When the chips were down, Joe Montana came through with flying colors, as did Troy Aikman and Kurt Warner. But as the competition gets tougher, Brady was able to come through only when he could look to the opposition sideline and know what defense was going to be played. Since the Patriots can’t do steal signals any more, his excellence in the clutch has diminished considerably.
Until Brady proves he can do it on his own in those crucial playoff situations…without the help of unfair advantages provided by his coach…any Hall of Fame voters have to be skeptical about his worthiness.